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Marcello Maniglia, Roshni Jogin, Kristina M. Visscher, Aaron R. Seitz; We don't all look the same; detailed examination of peripheral looking strategies after simulated central vision loss. Journal of Vision 2020;20(13):5. https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.20.13.5.
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Loss of central vision can be compensated for in part by increased use of peripheral vision. For example, patients with macular degeneration or those experiencing simulated central vision loss tend to develop eccentric viewing strategies for reading or other visual tasks. The factors driving this learning are still unclear and likely involve complex changes in oculomotor strategies that may differ among people and tasks. Although to date a number of studies have examined reliance on peripheral vision after simulated central vision loss, individual differences in developing peripheral viewing strategies and the extent to which they transfer to untrained tasks have received little attention. Here, we apply a recently published method of characterizing oculomotor strategies after central vision loss to understand the time course of changes in oculomotor strategies through training in 19 healthy individuals with a gaze-contingent display obstructing the central 10° of the visual field. After 10 days of training, we found mean improvements in saccadic re-referencing (the percentage of trials in which the first saccade placed the target outside the scotoma), latency of target acquisition (time interval between target presentation and a saccade putting the target outside the scotoma), and fixation stability. These results are consistent with participants developing compensatory oculomotor strategies as a result of training. However, we also observed substantial individual differences in the formation of eye movement strategies and the extent to which they transferred to an untrained task, likely reflecting both variations in learning rates and patterns of learning. This more complete characterization of peripheral looking strategies and how they change with training may help us understand individual differences in rehabilitation after central vision loss.
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